Wikipedia:WikiProject Quality Article Improvement/Infobox

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Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez (1968).jpg
Pierre Boulez, composer, conductor, founder and director of IRCAM, in 1968
Born (1925-03-26)26 March 1925
Montbrison, Loire, France
Died 5 January 2016(2016-01-05) (aged 90)
Baden-Baden, Germany
Works List of compositions

The following thoughts were initiated by Gerda Arendt (talk · contribs) on 25 June 2013 in response to discussions on the topic.

I dream of the day that the infobox is a simple tool of accessibility.

I think of it as the identity card of an article. It contains some data about the article subject that can be measured and compared, such as dates and places. It does not "represent" the subject, as an identity card does not reflect its holder's thoughts and feelings. The data in the box are useful for quick reference, and for other databases such as Wikidata. Data appear in granular form, dates for example in a format that has year/month/day individually accessible and thus ready to be compared and to be represented in different formats and languages. I believe that no article is "harmed"/"damaged" by an infobox that lets the reader see at a glance at least when and where to locate a subject. The infobox can also be compared to a title page of a book.

Feel free to discuss on the talk page, general thoughts and individual infoboxes. Please stay calm and factual ;)


The history of the infobox on Wikipedia is long, so is the history of the "infobox war". Working mostly in Classical music, I didn't see many infoboxes.

I first watched an edit war on an infobox on Samuel Barber. On 11 April 2012 I supported those who found the infobox redundant. Another user replied: "Gerda is, of course, absolutely right that an infobox doesn't contain any info that isn't already present in the article, but it isn't meant to: its purpose is to summarize the info in an "at a glance" way." - I confess that I didn't understand it then. (Read the discussion, all arguments in a nutshell.)

I watched the argument on an infobox for Georg Solti on the day of being TFA, 25 July 2012. The article had an infobox until 14 November 2007. I read: "Infoboxes are part of the site's design. They are to serve readers who are looking for a précis, who are surfing. Seeking to exclude the infobox is akin to wanting some other part of the MediaWiki interface gone, such as the wiki-globe. It would be better to view the infobox as a sibling to the column of stuff to the left of the article. ... Those classes are about generating microformats; metadata. ... It's also simply about reader courtesy and site consistency." "Infoboxes are useful tools that should be encouraged in classical music articles. They sum up the main points of an article, allowing for readers of these articles (such as myself) access to some of the most commonly sought-after material. That they be in standard place in most articles would allow readers an easy go-to place for birth/death dates, places of occupation, and a general synoposis of the individual. I feel some in the classical music wikiproject get offended thinking that infoboxes encourage readers to skip over some admittedly great articles. But those who come here just to see a basic sketch of an individual aren't going to read the article from top to bottom. Those who do that will continue to do so whether or not there is an infobox present. Infoboxes, written correctly (omitting information that cannot be summarized, such as which "period" Beethoven belongs to), offer no drawbacks to an article and quite a few benefits." - I learned some new ideas.

I was present in the beginning of the argument on an infobox for the book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek on 18 September 2012, after it had been TFA, an article that I had watched since I had reviewed it for DYK. I first agreed with the author who didn't want an infobox. One editor said "Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a database", and the other "It's both", - and that converted me.

Since, I am ready to supply infoboxes, developed {{infobox Bach composition}} with Classical Music and helped developing {{infobox opera}}.


Extracted from the above, an infobox can serve several functions.

Main points[edit]

The infobox can sum up the main points of an article in structured format "at a glance". It should contain only sourced facts from the article.

Reader courtesy[edit]

Making a quick overview available is a courtesy to any reader.

Site consistency[edit]

Infoboxes are present on many articles of Wikipedia, on all levels of quality. A stub that contains just an infobox can be informative, for example "my opera house", Daegu Opera House. Most featured articles come with an infobox.


Presenting data in microformats, for example geographic coordinates and calendar events, makes them accessible as metadata to programs, ready for comparisons and calculations independent of a language, and ready to be translated easily to other languages.

Quality standard[edit]

Infoboxes are features, along with images and tables, that are wanted for some quality articles, such as "appropriate supporting materials" for class B for Military history. (Added 2 November 2014)


Where are the infoboxes?

Also, for any infobox, select "what links here" and then "transclusions".

2016: Different kinds of readers[edit]

In a discussion, WhatamIdoing pointed out:

  • Blind users are unable to read, and yet we do count them as "readers" and editors. Some dyslexic readers value infoboxes precisely because it minimizes the need to read a gray blur of text. We also get feedback from people who struggle with English, who prefer infoboxes because they don't have read sentences (or paragraphs, or more, depending upon which specific fact is being sought). This isn't necessarily an argument for or against an infobox in this specific article, but I think it is important to remember that different people get information from Wikipedia in different ways. 1
  • I agree that all the important facts can't be squeezed into an infobox. But from the POV of a reader who is in search of an individual, simple fact, e.g., "Where was Holst born?", it is certainly true that "the only fact that is important to me at the moment" could easily be placed in an infobox. Right now, to find Holst's birthplace, you have to search through 400 words first. So imagine that you don't actually care why Holst is awesome. Imagine that you really only want to know if he is a potential subject for the homework that your history-of-music teacher ordered on "Dead Composers from England". And imagine that you can't read English easily. From that POV, an infobox would be very helpful in meeting your needs. Or perhaps you're looking for a list of his compositions, which appears halfway through the article, and again in the navbox, which is invisible on mobile devices (=about half of our readers). Having that at the top would be handy for that reader.
    More generally: are we at risk of imposing a single narrative on readers? Is there only one Correct Way™ to use an article? Are we starting to think that All True Readers want to know the whole story, as explained in 9,000 carefully chosen words, and to design articles not only to support this rare person, but also to ignore and exclude the others? Perhaps we should spend more time thinking about our average reader, rather than our ideal one. This particular article gets about 400 views on an average day. Based upon research with mobile platform, many of those 400 readers never progress past the lead, and very few – maybe just one or two each day – read the whole thing. 2 --Gerda Arendt (talk) 11:29, 30 August 2016 (UTC)

See also[edit]

Related thoughts[edit]

Brianboulton in The Signpost, 13 July 2013